Trust, but verify. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration is taking to heart President Ronald Reagan’s famous maxim as the state works with local registrars to verify that felons’ voting rights were restored when the governor signed an order April 22 that opened the door to full civil rights for more than 206,000 Virginians who have done their time for felony convictions. For many, verification has required nothing more than a quick search in one of two state databases fully updated a week after McAuliffe’s order to show when felons’ rights had been restored. Almost 2,100 had registered to vote by midday Thursday.
But for others, the path to voter registration has required a detour through the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office, which is doing the necessary pick-and-shovel work with state police to determine whether felons whose names don’t show up in the database indeed have had their rights restored.
“We’re not just taking anyone’s word for it,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson said in an interview Thursday. “We’re verifying they’re eligible.”